All the ways iOS 9.3 will impact school iPad rollouts

Apple’s latest overhaul will impact one-to-one and shared device rollouts

In March, Apple upgraded the iPad and iPhone operating system to iOS 9.3 (quickly followed by iOS 9.3.1, which tweaked a few bugs). The lead up to the release caught the eye of the K-12 community, which had been waiting for a few tweaks of their own that would help it better manage both shared and one-to-one iPad implementations. It’s only been a couple of weeks since the new operating system hit prime time, but the feedback is already coming in—and it’s largely positive.

New features in iOS 9.3, for example, make it easier for IT to set up and manage devices via a new managed home screen layout. This feature allows administrators to deploy iPads configured for students, and to select which applications will appear on their device home screens. It might be most useful in shared environments, where more than one student is using a device—but where not all of the apps are relevant for all of those users. Schools can also locate and recover stolen or lost devices via ongoing location tracking that doesn’t compromise student privacy.

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Wireless sensors help students connect with science

PASCO’s wireless science sensors are compatible across all operating system platforms

Sensor-based lab investigations provide rich opportunities for students to deepen their science understanding and develop hands-on experience using tools like those used by real-life scientists and engineers.

PASCO Scientific has introduced a line of wireless sensors that are compatible with multiple technology platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPad and iPhone, Android tablets and phones, and Chromebooks.

The new line, which includes wireless pH, temperature, pressure, and force/acceleration sensors, simplifies lab setup and removes the clutter of cables. As a result, students can now spend more time exploring, and perform experiments that were difficult or impossible before. The wireless technology also helps schools save money by eliminating the need for a separate device to connect sensors to a computer, tablet or smartphone. Students can simply transmit the data directly from the wireless sensor to their device.…Read More

Flipping the classroom when home access is a problem

A lack of reliable internet access at home can make flipping a challenge, but by no means an impossibility

Ed. note: Jess Peterson will co-present a related session, “Flipping the Classroom in Low-Socioeconomic Schools,” at this year’s FETC conference in Orlando, on Friday Jan. 15.

Ask any educator, and they’ve probably at least heard of flipping the classroom. There are articles for days about the benefits and rewards to be reaped from flipping. Plenty of teachers have given it a go, or at least considered it. Too many teachers have ruled it out on account of their students’ lack of access.

It’s true that our students come from all walks of life. We see the ones with the new Jordans or the latest iPhone, and their peers wearing the old hand-me-down sweater. All of them are our future. All of them are entitled to the best education possible. Only some of them are equipped with the means to achieve their fullest potential.…Read More

7 TED Talks All About Mobile

The psychology of mobile devices, a 12 year-old app developer, how phones make us antisocial, and more

mobile-teensThis month’s TED Talks focuses in on a subject near and dear to our thumbs—our mobile devices.

TED Talks are some of today’s most popular examples of the internet’s power to expand learning opportunities to all. They’re also fun to watch.

I picked this month’s theme because I find the subject endlessly fascinating and the talks listed here, illuminating. For educators juggling using mobile devices in their personal lives and in the classroom, the past, present, and future of the device has a special importance.  There’s plenty to learn about the psychology, anthropology, and future of the mobile device.…Read More

New milestone emerges: Baby’s first iPhone app

Charlotte Deutsch, who will be 2 years old next month, has a look of pure delight as she swipes the screen of her mother’s old iPhone, and finds a picture of herself, The New York Times reports. “Baby Chacha!” she crows, swiping again to encounter another treasure. “Dada!” On the new iPhone — the one her mother actually uses — her big sister, Izzy, 4, is utterly intent on “Dora’s Ballet Adventure,” her tiny thumb tapping away at the stars and arrows. The iPhones, loaded with 20 children’s apps and some 1,200 photographs, are among the girls’ favorite playthings. “The little one loves to go through the pictures and name who’s in them, see her grandma and her nanny,” said their mother, Tina Deutsch, a former nursery school teacher. “The older one loves the games, and taking pictures. She loves the clicking sound, and if it’s blurry, she knows how to delete it.”

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A simple swipe on a phone, and you’re paid

A new device from a company called Square snaps into an iPhone and lets any user become a credit card authorizing entrepreneur, with no setup fees or contracts, writes New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Square’s chief executive is Jack Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter, and his latest idea might change the nature of transactions the way the ATM machine changed how we do our banking. “There are actually some good reasons individuals don’t accept credit cards; the whole system is a nightmare of fees and red tape,” Pogue writes. “To become a credit card merchant, you have to buy the card-reading equipment, which costs several hundred dollars. You generally pay a setup fee, and you commit to a one- or two-year contract with the processing company. You pay $15 to $25 a month, and minimum transaction fees of $25 a month, even if you had no sales at all. The Square Up system, on the other hand, eliminates that stuff. All of it. It makes the barrier to entry into the credit card world so low, there’s virtually nothing to stop you, the little guy, from taking the leap.” Square provides users with a tiny, half-inch reader attachment that snaps into the headphone jack of an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android phone. The reader has a slot where you can swipe a credit card. The Square plug is free, and for each transaction, Square charges you 2.75 percent of the total, plus 15 cents. “That’s a lot simpler, and usually cheaper, than actual merchant accounts, where you might pay 3 or 4 percent, depending on the kind of card, plus 30 cents a transaction,” Pogue writes…

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To win over users, gadgets have to be touchable

Scientists and academics who study how we interact with technology say touch screens have seeped into people’s day-to-day existence more quickly and completely than other technological behaviors because it is so natural, intimate, and intuitive, reports the New York Times—and so now device makers in a post-iPhone world are putting touch at the core of the newest wave of computer design, known as natural user interface. Unlike past interfaces centered on the keyboard and mouse, natural user interface uses ingrained human movements that do not have to be learned. The latest example is a new line of Sony eReaders that the company will introduce Sept. 1. For the first time, all have touch screens; Sony decided on the technology after watching person after person in focus groups automatically swipe the screen of its older, non-touch eReaders. Research in Motion now makes touch-screen BlackBerrys, is expected to make a Kindle with a non-glare touch screen, and Garmin has introduced touch-screen GPS devices for biking, hiking, and driving. New Canon and Panasonic digital cameras have touch screens, and Diebold—which makes ATMs—says more than half the machines banks order today have touch screens…

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Apple offers app store discounts to schools

Apple has introduced a volume purchase program for schools looking to buy applications for students’ iPhones, iPod Touches, or iPads, InformationWeek reports. The App Store Volume Purchase Program was introduced Aug. 9 on the site for iOS developers. iOS is the operating system that ships with the iPad and the latest iPhone and iPod Touch. The new program lets U.S. educational institutions buy apps in volume for distribution to students and faculty. In addition, developers can elect to offer special education pricing for their apps, when purchased in volume. Schools are a major customer base for Apple, which has offered discounts on Mac computers to students and faculty for years. While the small screen of the iPhone and iPod Touch limits their use in the educational market, the iPad’s nearly 10-inch diagonal display makes it a potential alternative to hardcover textbooks and documents handed out by professors. Indeed, Apple reportedly has pitched the iPad to the education market, believing the device can be used to easily share information with others…

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Flash for iPhone now available, thanks to jailbreak

Adobe’s Flash technology is now available for iOS devices, thanks to a new application for jailbroken iPhones and iPads, PC World reports. Coming from Comex, the same man who developed the browser-based JailbreakMe tool, Frash lets iPhone users view Adobe Flash content on their phones. Frash is in its very early stages, and works with the iPhone 4, 3GS (with iOS4), third-generation iPod Touch, and iPads with the latest software (3.2.X), the developer says. To install Frash, you will also need to jailbreak your device, which can be done easily with the new web browser-based JailbreakMe tool released last week. Apple has refused to include Adobe’s Flash technology into its mobile devices, saying that it would cripple the experience and battery life. Some iPhone users were not happy with that decision, and looked into getting Flash on their iOS devices. As for jailbreaking, the procedure came into legality two weeks ago, when the U.S. Copyright Office declared it an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. However, Apple doesn’t agree with jailbreaking and says the procedure will void the warranty of your iOS device—meaning no free repairs in case something goes wrong…

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RIM unveils new BlackBerry to counter Apple iPhone

Research In Motion has unveiled a new BlackBerry aimed at wooing consumers away from Apple’s iPhone and other rivals, Reuters reports—but analysts said the handset won’t blow away the competition. Even though the main features of the BlackBerry Torch, including a touch screen and slide-out keyboard, were well-known within the industry, investors registered their disappointment, driving RIM’s Toronto-listed shares down 4 percent. The Torch will go on sale in the United States on August 12 for $199.99 with a two-year contract—about the same price as an iPhone. The new BlackBerry uses a revamped operating system and has a faster and easier-to-use web browser. Analysts said the Torch does not represent a major advance, but its consumer-friendly features were enough to help RIM to catch up to rivals. While the BlackBerry has long been the gold standard for corporate and government customers because of its speedy, secure eMail service, critics said it needs a big overhaul to expand its popularity beyond business customers. One of the new features RIM touted is the ability to search any application, media content, or contact by typing a word on in Torch’s “universal search” function. The device also comes with a 5-megapixel camera with a flash and a built-in GPS for location-based applications…

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